In the interests of scientific experimentation, I've been playing around with a few choice beverages recently. One is a classic that, sadly, has been appropriated by the Bacardi chaps in an effort to boost sales of their particular product, while the other is a rather forgotten cocktail that many won't have heard of. I'll deal with the forgotten cocktail in another post.
The first is that beverage much beloved of Ernest Hemingway and, for those of you who prefer their references to be less literary, Brian the dog from Family Guy.
Yes, folks, it's the Mojito. Don't stop reading just yet - bear with me.
Cuban in origin, it's roots have been lost in the mists of time. Some say it is similar to a drink called La Draque, created in honour of Sir Francis Drake, others that it was an invention by the African slaves working in the sugar cane fields. Wherever it came from, it's a most splendid drink indeed.
I first tried a Mojito in a Cuban Bar and Restaurant at Kings Cross, London. I was an immediate convert and, fortunately, was in the company of a couple of young ladies who were being bought copious drinks by amorous gentlemen, heady with rum and rumba. As they weren't Mojito lovers, they kept placing the glistening tumblers of minty, limey elixir on the table in front of me. It was a marvellous evening and my love affair with the Mojito had begun.
For several years, I've pursued the Mojito around the country. Whenever I go away for business and an establishment has the Mojito on its menu, I've ordered one. However, this has been a rather disappointing quest thus far. At one restaurant in Nottingham, I was informed that they couldn't make me a Mojito because the ice machine was broken and they didn't have any "mint syrup". That was a lucky escape, both for me and them. It's entirely possible that, if they'd had it available, I would have grabbed the bottle of mint syrup and inserted into them with a flourish of the wrist and a might roar of "Cuba Libre!" whilst leaping, shirtless, from table to table, hooting like an enraged ape.
At, of all places, a Frankie and Benny's in Cambridge, I ordered a Mojito which, when it arrived, didn't taste quite right. I subsequently learned that the barman, presumably some sort of 'care in the community' work placement, had neglected to add the lime. And the sugar. Only five ingredients, yet this inconceivably gormless cock-monkey forgot to add two of them. Unbelievable. It was only sheer willpower that prevented me from kicking him so hard that he was propelled into the heart of the sun.
I could name other disastrous Mojito encounters but, instead, I will simply say that I've been seeking that initial wondrous experience for a long time and simply hadn't found it.
Until a few weeks ago, after a significant amount of research.
After work one Friday, I went to the supermarket and bought myself the raw ingredients so that I could return home and create my own Mojito. Here, for your pleasure, is the recipe I used.
First, you need to make a simple syrup in advance. This is staggeringly easy to do. Just take two cupfuls (a teacup will do) of white sugar and dump them in a saucepan. Then take two cupfuls of water and dump those in the pan too. Put the heat on and gently bring the water to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Take it off the heat and let it cool down. There's your simple syrup. Put it in the fridge or something.
Now for the recipe:
40ml rum (if you can, get hold of some Havana Club rum. If not, Bacardi will do. I'm not a purist)
30ml freshly squeezed lime juice (if you can't be bothered to squeeze your own limes, simply buy a bottle of processed lime juice - I believe JIF manufacture it - shake several drops into your eyes and then fuck off. Just squeeze some limes, you pleb.)
15ml simple syrup
8 mint leaves
Get a long-ish glass and put the lime juice, syrup and mint leaves into it. Gently 'muddle' the leaves with the lime and syrup. Now, to 'muddle' means that you're gently bashing the mint leaves so that they release their delicious oils into the liquid. Don't tear the leaves, don't smash them into oblivion, just gently bruise them. You can buy a 'muddler' which is a little wooden implement, or you can use a pestle. Alternatively, use the end of a rolling pin. Basically, use your imagination and stop relying on other people to solve all your problems for you.
Once you've completed your muddling, take a handful of crushed ice and pop it into the glass. If you only have ice cubes, a clean tea-towel and a rolling pin are your friends here. Alternatively, smash the ice with the bottom of a saucepan.
Chuck in your rum, then top the whole thing up with soda water.
Give it a little mix and then drink the bugger.
A well-made mojito, my friends, is a thing of joy. Fresh, tasty and incredibly moreish.
Ignore the fact that it has now become horribly 'fashionable'. Most of the mojito's you'll see in pubs and clubs are shockingly bad, thrown-together affairs that disrespectfully fling faeces into the face of the genuine article.
And remember, please drink responsibly. If you drink more than 20 Mojito's in a single sitting, you may be visited by Satan.